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Guid. Out of your proof you speak; we, poor, unfledged
age ; but unto us, it is
Arv. What should we speak of
Bel. How you speak!
Guid. Uncertain favour !
Bel. My fault being nothing, as I have told you oft But that two villains (whose false oaths prevailed Before my perfect honour) swore to Cymbeline
I was confederate with the Romans : so
How hard it is to hide the sparks of nature !
" thus mine enemy fell, “ And thus I set my
The younger brother Cadwall,
how to adore the heavens, &c,
This humble habitation of ours teaches our hearts humility. The palaces of princes encourage their pride, but as we must bow our heads to pass out of this low cave, so we are reminded to prostrate ourselves before the majesty of Heaven.
Oh this life Is nobler, &c. Inexperienced youths, in this safe retreat you know not the follies and vices of mankind. No life is so desirable as ours, for its innocence, peace, and security.
Out of your proof you speak, &c. You know, for you have lived in the world, what it is—good or bad—but we, unhappily, have received no such information. When we shall become as old as you, how deplorably unfurnished with all knowledge will our minds be- what shall we know to discourse upon ?
How you speak, &c. Did you but know the vices of men who inhabit cities; the arts practised in king's houses; the needless and cruel toil of war; the slanders which sometimes follow the best men and the best conduct; and the submissions which must be made to unjust censurers, you would not desire to abandon your present condition for one where so much may be suffered.
It may be interesting to the young reader to be told that at the conclusion of this drama, the princes were restored to their father, the integrity of Belarius was vindicated, and he was received into favour by Cymbeline.
Thy soul was like a star and dwelt apart :
Milton, who is rightly classed among the most exalted of British poets, was the son of a gentlemen in the middle rank of society, but the moral dignity of his character would have done honour to any station. For abjuring the Roman Catholic, and professing the Protestant faith, the elder Milton was disinherited by his father, and compelled to make his way in the world by industry and integrity only ; but his ability in business secured to him a competent estate, and the happy turn of his mind rendered a moderate fortune sufficient.
From the childhood of the poet, his father discerned his extraordinary endowments, and trained him with suitable care and skill. Milton was at first educated by a private tutor, then sent to a public school in London, and, at a proper age, was entered at the university of Cambridge. After his collegiate studies were finished, he spent a few years in a delightful rural retirement at Horton in Buckinghamshire, and at the age of thirty repaired to the continent of Europe. All the influences of domestic culture, of self-application, and of foreign travel, tended to give the highest finish to the character of a man on whom nature had bestowed the most beautiful countenance, and the most sublime soul.
During his residence in France and Italy, Milton's virtues and accomplishments gained him the friendship of some of the most gifted men of the age. He lived, in respect to his own country, at a period of political trouble ; but he was neither“ a bigot of the iron time" of Cromwell, nor a sycophant in the licentious court of Charles II. He was a true republican, and Cromwell, had distinguished him : consequently, after the Stuart ascended the throne, he fell into obscurity and neglect. But what was infinitely more afflictive, he was totally deprived of sight at the age of forty-two years. The happiness of this great man depended little upon fortune. His intellectual and moral worth gave dig
nity to his condition, and when he was removed from active life, he was not forsaken of honourable friendships.
His divine complacency, and the consolations that sustained his spirit, are exhibited by his own declarations.
A person engaged in a controversy with Milton, enraged at the zeal with which he supported the cause of civil and religious liberty, reproached him with his blindness, as a retribution of God upon the principles which he had defended. Upon this occasion, the poet made the following reply to his accuser :
"I do not regard my lot either with weariness or compunction; I continue in the same sentiments fixed and immoveable. I do not think God displeased with me, neither is he displeased; on the contrary, I experience and thankfully acknowledge his paternal clemency and benignity towards me in every thing that is of the greatest moment; specially in this, that he himself consoling and encouraging my spirit, I acquiesce without a murmur in his sacred dispensations. It is through his grace that I find my friends, even more than before, kind and officious towards me --that they are my consolers, honourers, visiters, and assistants.
" Those who are of the highest consideration in the republic, finding that the light of my eyes departed from me, not being slothful and inactive, but while I was with constancy and resolution placing myself in the foremost post of danger for the defence of sacred liberty, do not on their part desert me. Nor is it an occasion of anguish to me, though you count it miserable, that I am fallen in vulgar estimation into the class of the blind, the unfortunate, the wretched, and the helpless ; since my hope is, that I am thus brought nearer to the mercy and protection of the universal Father.
"There is a path, as the apostle teaches me, through weakness to a more consummate strength ; let me therefore be help. less, so that in my debility the better and more immortal part of our human nature may be more effectually displayed ; so that amidst my darkness, the light of the Divine countenance may shine forth more bright—than shall I be at once helpless, and yet of giant strength ; blind, yet of vision most penetrating;
I be in this helplessness carried on to fulness of joy, and in this darkness surrounded with the light of eternal day."— Translated from the Latin of Milton, Defensio Secunda.
The more powerful of Milton's poems may be found in different collections of poetry, as well as in his entire works ; such passages as were suitable to this book are here inserted. Cowper has translated from Milton's Latin poetry some endearing ver